Costa Rica Overview
|Rep迆blica de Costa Rica
|Form of government
||Costa Rica Colon
|Telephone area code
The Rep迆blica de Costa Rica, the official Spanish
name, is located in Central America. It has two
neighboring countries: North Nicaragua and Southeast
Panama. In the east, the country borders on the
Caribbean Sea, in the west on the Pacific. With a size
of 51 100 km², Costa Rica is roughly the size of the
German state of Lower Saxony.
The country has coastal lowlands and a mountainous
interior. Two mountain ranges run almost the entire
length of the country: the Cordillera Volc芍nica in the
north, the Cordillera de Talamanca in the south, which
is divided into three further mountain ranges. The
country's highest mountain is Mount Chirrip車 Grande in
the Cordillera de Talamanca with a height of 3 820 m.
The active volcanoes Iraz迆 and Po芍s can be found in the
Cordillera Volc芍nica. In front of the volcanoes is a
central valley (Meseta Central), which is divided into
two parts: an eastern part, which is traversed by the
R赤o Reventaz車n, and a western part, which is dominated
by the R赤o Grande de T芍rcoles. While the R赤o Reventaz車n
flows into the Caribbean Sea, the R赤o Grande de T芍rcoles
flows from the mountains to the Pacific.
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is only slightly
structured, beaches change into a wide lowland plain,
which takes up about a fifth of the country's area. The
lowlands on the approximately 1,000 km long Pacific
coast are only about half the size and have smaller
valleys and plains. Here are two peninsulas, the
Pen赤nsula de Nicoya with up to 1 168 m high mountains
and further south the Pen赤nsula de Osa.
The tropical climate in Costa Rica shows only slight
seasonal temperature fluctuations and is characterized
by a dry (December to April) and a rainy season (May to
November). The average temperatures in the capital, San
Jos谷 (1,160 m above sea level) in the center of the
country are 19 ∼C in January and 21 ∼C in July. They
rise in Puerto Lim車n on the Caribbean Sea to 24 ∼C in
January and 25 ∼C in July, in Puntarenas on the Pacific
the temperatures average 28 ∼C to 29 ∼C all year round.
The annual rainfall, on the other hand, is
extraordinarily high in Puerto Lim車n at 4,225 mm; the
year-round rainforest on the Caribbean coast has
precipitation values of up to 6,000 mm. With the
exception of the ever-humid south-east, the Pacific
region of Costa Rica is alternately humid, only there is
the average amount of precipitation up to 3,000 mm (Puntarenas
1,085 mm, San Jos谷 in the central highlands 1,800 mm).
Flora and fauna
Evergreen tropical rainforests can be found in the
Caribbean and southern Pacific lowlands. The dense
forests cover about a third of the country. Among the
woods, the noble woods of the cedar plants are
particularly noteworthy, which are red-brown and have a
golden sheen. The rest of the Pacific region is covered
by rain green dry and damp forests. Mountain forest and
cloud forest follow at altitudes above around 500 m.
Numerous evergreen oaks grow in the Calamanca region.
The tree line is over 3 100 m. From this height, grassy
fields and the typical P芍ramo, which consists of hard
grasses, bushy, branched and densely leafed upholstery
plants and mountain bushes, grow.
The fauna of Costa Rica is just as diverse as the
flora. Numerous mammals live in the region, which as a
land bridge has influences from both North and South
America. Mammals such as red deer, big cats, weasels,
coyotes, otters and foxes can be found from North
America, and anteaters, monkeys and sloths come from
South America. In addition to the numerous mammals, the
rainforest in particular offers a large number of
insects and tropical birds and reptiles, the exact
number of which has not yet been researched.
Around 4.7 million people live in Costa Rica. The
country's largest city is San Jos谷, which lies at an
altitude of 1,160 m at the foot of the Central
Cordilleras in a high basin and has a population of
356,000. Other important cities are the Caribbean port
and provincial capital Lim車n with 65,600 residents and
Puntaarenas, capital of the province of the same name,
which is the most important port city on the Pacific
with around 36,000 residents.
The population of the republic is very homogeneous.
About 90% of the people are whites of old Spanish
origin. The country's largest minorities are mestizos,
Asians and mulattos. According to COUNTRYAAH,
about 3,000 Chibcha Indians live in
remote forest areas. The main settlement area is the
Valle Central, where more than half of the population
lives. The official language is Spanish with a typical
national accent. For example, Costa Rican citizens
replace the ending "-tito" with "-tico", which earned
them the nickname "Ticos" in Central America. The vast
majority of the population is Roman Catholic, about 15%
The population growth of the South American state is
1.6% annually due to strong immigration, the average
life expectancy is 77 years. 96% of Costa Ricans can
read and write.
According to the 1949 constitution, Costa Rica is a
presidential republic. The president, elected directly
by the people for four years, is also head of government
(Luis Guillermo Sol赤s, since May 2014). Immediate
re-election is excluded. The head of government appoints
the cabinet members who are directly responsible to him.
Parliament is represented by the Legislative Assembly
(Asamblea Legislativa). This counts 57 deputies who are
elected for four years. There is a compulsory choice
from the age of 18. The country's most important parties
are the Social Democratic Partido de Liberaci車n Nacional
(PLN), the left-liberal Partido Acci車n Ciudadana (PAC),
the Frente Amplio (FA), the Christian-Democratic Partido
Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) and the right-liberal
Movimiento Libertario (ML).
The country is divided into seven provinces, which
consist of cantons and districts.
Costa Rica is a member of the United Nations, UNESCO,
FAO and WHO. It also belongs to the following
international organizations: IMF, World Bank, OAS,
UNCTAD, IAEA, Association of Caribbean States, IDB
(Inter-American Development Bank, SICA (Central American
Common Market) and WTO.
Travel and tourism
Tourism is one of the main sources of income for the
small state; most of the approximately 2.4 million
tourists a year (2013) come from the United States and
Canada. Around 55,000 tourists came from Germany in
2013. The main attractions are the different natural
regions of Costa Rica with tropical rain and cloud
forests, mangrove groves, volcanoes and palm beaches. In
order to protect the rare fauna, the country has
successfully turned to eco-tourism in recent years and
established the national parks as a central attraction.
More and more travel providers are adding Costa Rica to
their offer. If you really want to get to know the
country "from the inside", you should use individual
programs for Costa Rica trips.
Costa Rica is one of the most economically and
politically stable countries in Central America. Tourism
and the export of electronic goods in particular are
important pillars of the economy. Tourism is now the
most important source of foreign exchange.
The importance of agriculture has decreased in recent
decades, but it is even more important source of foreign
currency (bananas, pineapple, coffee). It now only
contributes 6% to gross domestic product (GDP). The
country has only a few mineral resources, the most
important of which are bauxite and copper, but both are
still not mined. In addition, the tropical forests are
an important raw material, but large areas have already
been cut down to make room for banana plantations,
arable and pasture land. A special feature of Latin and
South American ownership is the fact that the majority
of the farmers are also landowners.
Even though high-tech industrial goods are the most
important export-oriented part of the economy, services
represent the largest domestic economic factor with 69%
The country's hydropower plants would have the
potential to meet both domestic needs and supply energy
for export. At the moment, 85% of the energy is
generated from hydropower. The largest hydropower plant
is located on the Arenal Lagoon in the Guanacaste
province on the Nicaragua border. The lake that is
dammed for this purpose also forms the largest drinking
water reservoir in the country.
The main trading partners are traditionally the USA,
but also China, the Central American countries and
Mexico. The most important port on the Atlantic is
Lim車n, on the Pacific Puntarenas and Caldera. There are
international airports near the capital San Jos谷 and in
the northwest near Liberia.
The currency is the Costa Rica Colon.